Top 8 Best Ski Racks

A ski rack is an easy solution to all of the hassle of hauling your gear to the mountains. By putting your skis on the outside of the vehicle, you save plenty of room for passengers and other equipment. 

I’ve been skiing for nearly my entire life, and I’ve been on probably hundreds of ski trips over the years. I know what to look for in a good ski rack for your car, and I have first-hand experience with many of the options you’ll see here. 

The Yakima PowderHound is my pick for the best ski rack for the car this season. This is an easy-to-install, high-quality option that gives you the ability to transport up to six pairs of skis safely. 

There are several other good racks for the car out there, and I’ll provide you with all of the best models in this post. My goal is to get you ready for action so you can just get your skis, secure them, and be off to the mountains. 

Let’s get started. 

Who Should Get This 

Ski racks are a fantastic accessory for any skier who lives near a resort or mountains with skiable snow. 

If you live in a ski town or within a few hours of a skiing location, these racks are a must-have because they will help you stay organized and allow you to cram more of your friends and family inside the vehicle. 

They are also a good way to keep your skis easily accessible and locked up while you’re parked.

Though all of the racks mentioned here are described as ski racks, they also hold snowboards. You don’t have to get a different rack style to haul your boards (or your friends) around. 

I didn’t use a ski rack for years, and then I accidentally broke one of my car windows loading by skis on a really cold and snowy day. It was a simple mistake but easily avoidable if I had a rack!

That being said, you don’t absolutely need a ski rack to haul your skis. If you own a larger car like an SUV or station wagon, your skis should fit easily in the back.

 A pickup truck will be able to comfortably hold them as well. Just be careful loading them up, so you don’t scratch or break anything.

Ski racks are definitely worth it, especially if you drive to the ski resort often. They save room in your car and help limit potential damage to your vehicle and your skis. Racks also allow you to drive more people to the mountains.

No, ski racks aren’t really bad for your skis. You don’t want to leave your skis in the rack for extended periods because this might lead to rust, theft, or other damage. But just driving your skis to the resort and back is fine.

If you don’t have a proper ski rack for your car, it is possible to strap your skis to the crossbars. I really wouldn’t recommend this unless you have no other options. Using a proper ski rack is a lot safer and better for your skis and your car.

Most universal-style ski racks are very easy to put on your car. They will have some sort of attachment system that grips or clips onto the crossbeams of your vehicle. Make sure to keep the instructions that come with the rack to install it correctly. 

You don’t need to worry about keeping ski racks far apart. If you install more than one rack onto your roof, they should easily fit side-by-side. You might want to include an inch or two of extra space just to be safe.

It really doesn’t matter which way your ski goes on the rack with modern ski designs. Most skis are at least somewhat twin-tipped, so they are almost symmetrical. Some people like to put the flatter end facing forward.

Yes, you can put cross country skis in a ski rack. As long as the rack fits securely and the skis seem firm and in place, they will hold in the rack without worries. If you have never tried this with your cross country skis, just make sure they hold securely before driving.

Top Picks of Best Ski Racks

Here are all of my top picks for the best ski racks. All of the models found here will work effectively to get your equipment around all winter long. 

1. Yakima PowderHound

  • Best for: Overall
  • Key features: Large capacity, durable construction, one-button release, SKS locks 
  • Construction: Aluminum/Plastic 
  • Capacity: 6 pairs skis 
  • Cost: $$$

The Yakima PowderHound is my pick for the best ski rack for cars this season. This is a great rack that will work well for just about everyone. 

It has a very large capacity that will enable you to carry up to six pairs of skis easily. It also has a tool-free install that makes getting everything set up a breeze. 

Another great feature is the integrated SKS lock system that helps deter theft and keeps your pricey skis safe from harm when you are not in your car. 

I don’t have many negative comments about this rack, but you’ll need a crossbar on your car to install everything correctly. 

2. Rhino Rack Ski Carrier 

  • Best for: Durability
  • Key features: Very durable, rugged construction, easy install, locking arms, universal mounting
  • Construction: Heavy-duty aluminum 
  • Capacity: 3 pairs skis 
  • Cost: $$$

If you’re looking for a rugged and reliable rack that will certainly keep your skis or board safe, take a look at the Rhino Rack Ski Carrier. 

This option utilizes a well-crafted design to hold your skis securely in place on the roof of your car. It’s available in four different sizes ranging from 10 to 27-inches.

This rack’s durability and strength are both outstanding thanks to heavy-duty aluminum construction, as well as the built-in rust and corrosion resistance. It’s also easy to install due to the included mounting hardware. 

This one is a little bulky, but you’ll hardly notice once it’s installed. 

3. DrsportsUSA Aluminum Universal 

  • Best for: Budget Option 
  • Key features: Affordable, stainless steel clamps, universal mounting system, 2-lock positions 
  • Construction: Aluminum 
  • Capacity: 6 pairs skis
  • Cost: $$

The DrsportsUSA Car Rack Carrier Ski Car Rack is an excellent budget device that will last a long time. 

This rack features a simple-but-effective design that can carry up to six pairs of skis with ease. Even better, you don’t have to take the rack off in the summer because it can carry warm-weather items like fishing poles and boat paddles.

This model features a universal mounting system that makes it easy to install in most vehicles. Wide cradle jaws are used to keep your skis firmly in place while you drive to the slopes, no matter the weather. 

It’s not the most durable option around, but it does come with a decent 1-year warranty if anything comes up during the ski season.

4. Yakima FatCat EVO Premium

  • Best for: Security 
  • Key features: Secure locks, aerodynamic design, universal mounting system, SKS locks
  • Construction: Heavy-duty aluminum 
  • Capacity: 4 pairs skis 
  • Cost: $$$$ 

The YAKIMA FatCat EVO Premium Ski and Snowboard Mount is a model that will give you peace of mind in knowing that your skis will be difficult to remove when the rack’s in the locked position. 

That’s made possible by built-in SKS locks that are reliable and effective.

This rack also has some other great features that make it stand out, including the ability to hold up to four pairs of skis as well as a double hinge joint that expands to fit even the fattest skis. 

The universal mounting system is easy to install, and the OverHang clamp attachment makes it easier to reach your skis when you want to take them out of the rack.

This one is expensive, but it can save you a lot of trouble and provide added peace of mind. 

5. INNO INA952 Universal  

  • Best for: Low Profile 
  • Key features: Low profile design, affordable, universal mounting, fits many sizes, locking 
  • Construction: Aluminum/Plastic 
  • Capacity: 3 pairs skis
  • Cost: $$$

The INNO INA952 Universal is a great low-profile option if you don’t need to transport a bunch of skis. 

The rack has a universal mounting design that makes it easy to install on any type of vehicle with a roof crossbar. 

It also comes with a locking design for added safety, and the rubber cushions will keep your skis securely in place as you drive.

This doesn’t have a huge capacity, but sometimes a compact option is nice.    

6. BougeRV Ski & Snowboard Racks 2.0 

  • Best for: Design 
  • Key features: Sliding design, lockable, durable, large capacity, easy install
  • Construction: Heavy-duty aluminum/rubber
  • Capacity: 6 pairs skis 
  • Cost: $$$

The BougeRV Ski and Snowboard Racks 2.0 features a slidable design that makes getting your skis into and out of the rack a breeze. 

This design can also help reduce the risk of scratching your car. I also like the durable construction that makes this rack last for years of regular use. 

An anti-theft locking system helps to ensure that all of your gear stays safe, and you only need a single key to operate it. 

The sliding mechanism can take some time to get used to but is great if you get the hang of it. 

7. Apex 4 Ski and Snowboard Roof Rack 

  • Best for: Value 
  • Key features: Affordable, effective, easy to install, locking 
  • Construction: Aluminum/Plastic 
  • Capacity: 4 pairs skis
  • Cost: $$

If you are looking for a good ski rack but don’t want to break the bank, take a look at the Apex 4 Ski and Snowboard Roof Rack. 

This affordable option will give you a reliable way to transport up to four pairs of skis, and it has a strong construction that will work well throughout the winter. 

It also comes with large push buttons to easily get your skis in and out of the rack without any issues or trouble. 

It’s not an extremely durable option and only holds four pairs of skis, but the price is right.  

8. Thule Pulse 

  • Best for: Box Style 
  • Key features: Covered storage, strong construction, quick-mount system, very durable, lockable
  • Construction: Plastic Cargo Box 
  • Capacity: 16 square feet/4-6 pairs of skis 
  • Cost: $$$$$

The Thule Pulse is a solid option for anyone looking for a covered ski rack. This box-style rack can help keep your skis safe from the elements and thieves. 

It comes with a FastGrip quick-mount system that makes it easy to install, and the central locking system gives you excellent security. 

The box also has a large storage area that lets you hold up to six pairs of skis and some other gear as well. 

This is a costly option, and it will extend the height of your vehicle a few feet. 

How to Choose The Best Ski Racks for Your Car

Here are some important things to consider when choosing the best ski racks for your car. 

Size

The first thing to consider when getting a ski rack is size. I’m not necessarily talking about the physical size of the rack itself (though that does matter) but rather how many sets of skis it can hold. 

There are multiple rack sizes out there, and you want to match yours to the number of skis and/or snowboards you plan on taking with you. Some rack options you’ll find here even have different sizes of the same model to accommodate your needs.

If you’re only going to carry one or two pairs of skis, you can get a smaller rack. If you want to take skis for everyone in the car, you’ll need a larger option that can hold up to six sets at one time. 

In my opinion, I’d go with a larger size even if you only ski with large groups in your car every once in a while. That just gives you more options.

Mounting Style

There are several ways you can mount a ski rack. Many cars have bars on top of the roof where a universal ski rack can easily and quickly latch on. That makes the universal mount style the most popular option. 

If you have a car with standard roof bars, I recommend getting a universal mount ski rack.

However, there are other options as well. Some cars don’t have the bars on the roof that I mentioned above. If yours does not, you might need to look at something that fits inside any affixed crossbar you have on the roof. 

Don’t be afraid to look at hitch-style mounts that install at the rear of your vehicle into a hitch. If you don’t have either of these, you will probably have to install something to make a rack work.

Locking Mechanism

Another primary consideration when getting a ski rack is a locking mechanism that will keep your skis safe and secure while you’re away from your vehicle. This is extremely important because you never want to leave your gear unprotected. 

Luckily, most high-end ski rack options come with some type of lock to make sure your equipment stays put.

Most ski rack locks use a small key to lock the latch in place, preventing the skis from being removed while in the locked position. You need to keep track of this key, or else you might end up with a decorative pair of skis (or three) on the top of your roof. 

I put the key on the same keychain as my car keys, so I know where it’s at all times. I also make a copy in case it ever gets lost.

Durability

Always consider your ski rack’s durability when making a purchase. You’re going to be using the device in harsh winter conditions, and it needs to be able to hold up and work flawlessly even when out in a blizzard. 

Ski racks also take a bit of a beating when you place the skis on the rack itself. Durability is important in this regard as well.

Every rack you’ll find here makes the list because of design characteristics that make them both strong and durable even in the face of the harshest conditions. 

If you’re looking at an option not listed above, be sure to check the rack is built with high-quality plastic, rubber, and metal so you can trust its durability time and time again.

Difficulty of Installation

If you purchase a universal ski rack, installation is relatively easy. Most models don’t require any tools for the job, and you can have the rack up and running in a matter of minutes. This is important to look out for if you’re not handy or don’t have easy access to tools. 

Some models require more effort, and some need extra tools for the install. Check the instructions before making your final purchase.

Cost

When getting ski racks, the cost is always a consideration. There are some pretty expensive options out there, and while that can hurt your wallet, they tend to be more reliable than cheaper models. 

There’s nothing wrong with getting something a bit more budget-friendly, but understand that it always comes at a price. They may not be as durable or last as long.

Useful Tips & Resources

While every ski rack has a different design, most roof-mounted styles are somewhat similar. That makes for an easy install if the rack comes with a universal mount design. 

You rarely need any additional tools to get the rack attached to your roof, and you can be up and running in a matter of minutes. If you want to check out how to easily install that style, check out the quick video below.

Final Verdict

The Yakima PowderHound is my pick for the best ski rack for cars this season. This is a convenient option that allows you to carry many skis safely and securely. It has quality construction that will last for years as well. 

If you spend any considerable amount of time driving to the ski resort, you need to get yourself a good rack for your car. All of the options here are highly recommended and will give you an easy way to haul your skis around.

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